The rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic left countless office spaces abandoned, and most employers aren’t planning on returning. In a nationwide housing shortage, that prime real estate presents a viable opportunity to create affordable housing units, particularly in major cities. Spectrum News New York 1, the Real Estate Board of New York, recently estimated that converting just 10% of the available 100 million square feet of potential office space would lead to a total of 14,000 apartments, NAHB reports.
The adaptive reuse process isn't just sustainable, but it can also create one-of-a-kind units that offer expansive square footage and utilize existing features like brick facades, industrial steel finishes, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Although the conversion process can be challenging and expensive, it’s certainly not a new concept. And the results can be simply stunning.
Take, for example, Prospect Yard — a 2020 Multifamily Pillars of the Industry finalist — and its reinvention of the historic Stuyvesant Motor Company, a 1917 mixed-use building in downtown Cleveland. Developers utilized the existing features, such as the brick façade, steel sash windows and stone sills, to create a cool, industrial-looking 42-unit affordable housing community.